There was a buzz inside Gila River Arena as 5,385 fans flocked to see the Arizona State Sun Devils began their era as a Division 1 ice hockey program.
That buzz was waiting to erupt as soon as the Sun Devils could get on the board. Less than three minutes into the game Ryan Belonger put one in the net early into the first period, but it was waved off due to a high stick. The history making would have to wait.
It only took a mere couple of minutes as Connor Schmidt tallied the first goal in ASU NCAA D1 history just 7:35 into the game and it was off to the races.
"Yeah after that, the boys were asking me about it and it really hasn’t set in yet," Schmidt said. "But I’m starting to think about it and it’s a honor. It’s something I can tell my grandkids."
Schmidt added after the game he was allowed to keep the puck.
From there, the floodgates opened for ASU. They added three more goals that period; including one from captain Jordan Young two minutes later. At the end of the first period, the Sun Devils lead by coach Greg Powers had a 4-1 lead and a 17-2 lead in the shots, a position that the Coach feels may not happen all year.
"We probably won’t be in a situation too often this year where we need to have that killer instinct when we have teams down. We plan on winning games, but not like we’re used to at the ACHA level," Powers said.
In the following two periods, the team kept the gas pedal down and added four more goals. After the final horn, ASU had their first victory as a D1 program and it was in convincing style, 8-1. Following the Schmidt goal, the game was taken over by freshman Jordan Masters, who tallied two goals and one assist.
It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for the Sun Devils, as they went 2-for-8 on their power play while taking nine penalties of their own (six of which lead to UofA power plays). Despite the struggles, Powers saw some encouraging things from his guys.
"The attitude and the energy our guys have — we have a special group of kids," Powers said. "You bring in 20 new kids, five of them are redshirts, thirteen that have been here for an extended period of time and they’ve already gelled so well together and they are so close," Powers said. "The energy’s really good in the room, it's good in practice and it’s good on the bench. And I think it’s really going to help us be successful."
While they can celebrate this win for now, the Sun Devils have a tough task facing them next week. They will travel to Alaska to play Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The rivalry is far from over as these two teams will meet up one last time on Feb.19 at Arizona before ASU commits to a full-year D1 schedule.
Stat of the Night: ASU limited the Wildcats to nine shots on net.
Quote of the Night: "Great night. Great night to be a Sun Devil. Great crowd. We appreciate everybody coming out. That was awesome. Our guys played hard. I think there’s a lot of work to do, clearly. Especially on our power play. But for this being the first full in-season day for us, we’ve been limited to two practice hours a week, we’re really pleased. The guys are excited."- Powers on his team defeating Arizona 8-1 at Gila River Arena.